Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Red Mist"

Richard Taylor's debut novel, The Haunting of Cambria, was released in 2007.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Red Mist, and reported the following:
Below is the entirety of Page 69, which is the beginning of Chapter 17.

Strangely, Page 69 does represent what Red Mist is about. David Dengler, my hero, risks everything to save Monroe, and pays the price of becoming embroiled in a conspiracy that plays out sixteen months later, in Dealey Plaza. Dengler is very much a seeker, a person who knows little and whose lack of knowledge causes him to bumble through a conspiracy so viral he should die of it. Like Monroe, he is a naive outsider. Like Monroe, he is a person thrust into stardom. And also like Monroe, David Dengler is an exception, a person of extraordinary native talent and cunning, a man about whom his nemesis must admit, "You have the instincts of a piranha." Those instincts, that cunning, leads David Dengler to Dallas, Texas on a late November morning in 1963.


Saturday, August 4, 1962, Early A.M.

Dengler remained in the tree hours after Marilyn Monroe drifted off into a drug-induced oblivion, the telephone still in her hand, the bedroom light on. Dengler lingered partly because he enjoyed looking at her. Though she was a world-famous beauty whose nudity was his and his alone for this moment, his fascination with seeing her nude wasn’t overtly sexual. Rather, perched in this tree and gazing down on a naked and vulnerable person, he felt like a guardian angel.

The final reason he remained was to continue thinking about his situation. In the darkness and silence of Marilyn Monroe’s Brentwood yard, David Dengler could think about the forces arrayed against him.

He began to run possibilities through his mind.

Possibility One: He hadn’t been sent to surveil Marilyn Monroe by accident. He knew Hollywood stars were well represented on Fort Lee’s list of surveillance subjects, for a number of good reasons. For one thing, they were used to being followed by the press and wouldn't find it unusual having another body camped outside their door. Another reason Hollywood stars were good surveillance subjects was because they were relatively easy to find, and then equally easy to follow and document. Their lives were more than public — their professions were public, meaning their comings and goings were a matter of public record in gossip columns and the like. Dengler also knew certain celebrities were not on the Fort Lee list. At Lee he’d heard rumors about a surveillance of Rock Hudson the year before that had backfired, resulting in Hudson’s name being removed from the list forever. It was said Hudson was a homosexual, and it wasn’t Fort Lee’s intention to reveal private information that would damage the subject and draw attention to its own training practices. The subjects were supposed to be innocuous, damage-proof, and thoroughly ordinary. Marilyn Monroe was anything but ordinary, and when the elements of a President and his attorney general were stirred in... Dengler feared he might have been sent to witness something, what he wasn’t sure, and the ramifications frightened him.

Possibility Two: He was sent in blind, without anyone’s knowledge Monroe was having an affair with the Attorney General of the United States. This scenario frightened Dengler even more. If it were discovered he had knowledge of what was going to happen — and Dengler was sure something would occur that would prevent Marilyn Monroe from having her press conference Monday morning — then he would be in extreme jeopardy.
Read an excerpt from Red Mist, and learn more about the book and author at Richard Taylor's website.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue